In 2020, we commissioned our first community survey to better understand the regulated community and its needs. This benchmarking survey provided a baseline to help track how community views on the enforcement of water laws and the role of NRAR change over time.
An independent research company conducted the survey with an anonymous sample of approximately 1000 regulated entities, 1000 members of the public and 40 stakeholder groups.
In 2021, we conducted a community pulse survey amongst a much smaller group of approximately 350 regulated entities, 350 members of the public and 25 stakeholder groups.
These surveys are part of NRAR’s broader stakeholder engagement approach.
2021 pulse survey findings
- All respondent groups (water users, stakeholder groups and the public) believe it is very important for NSW water laws to be enforced, as it ensures water is shared fairly, it is the right thing to do, it protects the environment and aids in sustainability.
- About two-thirds of regulated entities surveyed report that they know the rules that they need to comply with and the consequences for non-compliance.
- There is moderate confidence in the enforcement of NSW water laws among participants.
- Awareness of NRAR remains low, however the general public’s awareness of our work increased over the past 12 months.
- The general public suggested that an increase in awareness and harsher penalties would result in greater confidence in the regulator.
We will continue our work to increase awareness and understanding of the rules to ensure water is shared fairly across NSW.
2020 benchmarking survey findings
- All respondent groups (water users, stakeholder groups and the public) believe it is very important for NSW water laws to be enforced as it ensures water is shared fairly, it is the right thing to do, it protects the environment and aids in sustainability.
- Respondents consistently feel that most water users do the right thing, with only a minority of rule breakers.
- About two-thirds of regulated entities surveyed report that they know all of the rules that they need to comply with.
- There is moderate confidence in the enforcement of NSW water laws among participants, with plenty of room for improvement.
- Awareness of NRAR is low with high levels of agreement that NRAR is not communicating sufficiently.
- Respondents support NRAR working collaboratively with water users to assist them in doing the right thing.
- Most of the regulated entities and stakeholders surveyed want to hear more about water enforcement, licensing and regulation.
- Regulated entities suggest enhancing NRAR’s ability to detect breaches and being harsher with fines and prosecutions.
NRAR is developing a suite of initiatives to target areas that the benchmarking survey identified. These include:
- Increasing community engagement
- Extending the reach of education
- Enhancing our communications
- Expanding our presence in regional NSW
- Continuing to build our capabilities (people and technology)
NRAR will implement a revised stakeholder engagement strategy. We plan to engage with key community groups digitally and increase our presence at conferences, forums and other events
NRAR will broaden our education program by developing new products and innovative ways to help water users comply. We will share these products with water users through our operational teams and engagement with stakeholder organisations
We want to increase understanding of the water rules and NRAR, and to reach wider audiences by using traditional and non-traditional communications activities and channels
NRAR will increase our capacity for site inspections by three times with the rollout of new routine monitoring teams in Dubbo, Tamworth and Deniliquin. These teams will visit 3000 properties to report on rates of compliance and to engage with water users to promote voluntary compliance and help them understand their obligations.
NRAR has committed in our 2020 regulatory capability plan to becoming a leading regulator in training and procedures over the next five years. We are also investing in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our compliance and enforcement activities using enhanced technology and knowledge management. Additionally, we are working to develop tools that will allow water users to see how their applications for approvals are progressing.